Discrimination and the body

The Able Australia policy

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  • Published 20180501
  • ISBN: 9781925603323
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE WORDS ‘WELCOME’ and ‘opportunity’ are used throughout the Department of Home Affairs’ migration webpages. There is the occasional sun-drenched photo. In each portrait the smiles are wide. Everyone looks satisfied and at ease. These are bursts of liveliness amid reams of dry text. A fact sheet earnestly explains that Australia’s migration program does not discriminate: ‘This means that anyone from any country can apply to migrate, regardless of their ethnic origin, gender or colour, provided they meet the criteria set out in law.’

Given our sordid history of legislative racism, it is not surprising that the department tries to convince potential applicants that we’ve changed. The Migration Act 1958 was a turning point for Australia. The Dictation Test used to enforce the White Australia policy was abolished. Slowly, other restrictions were removed and our procedures were reformed with ‘fairness’ becoming the steady compass point for decision-making. It is a value that migrants are also expected to uphold, with all visa applicants obliged to sign the Australian Values Statement, thereby agreeing to respect the principles of ‘fair play’ and ‘equality of opportunity’.

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